California Raisins have been in production since the late 1800’s. As a dried fruit, raisins are naturally sweet with limitless culinary possibilities. The conventional method of drying raisins is to place green (ripe) grapes onto paper trays to be sun-dried, where they oxidize and turn dark brown or black from intense sunlight. As the skins crack from scorching heat, sugar and moisture leach to cause sticky berries. Some of them are completely sapped of their moisture and become rock hard. Vine stems often retreat and become embedded into their deeply defined wrinkles. Dried on the ground (“DOG”), these raisins are completely exposed to the elements, including seasonal wind, rain and dust storms. DOG raisins often fail United States Department ofAgriculture (“USDA”) inspection because they can become contaminated by mold, sand, rocks, glass, sand burrs, eucalyptus and other foreign materials like insect and rodent excrement, as specified in USDA’s inspection and grading manual.
Lion Raisins has eliminated most of these shortcomings with California DOV Raisins. Lion owns the patent on the best method of drying raisins on the vine. Lion utilizes an overhead trellis system where the vines produce a dense canopy of leaves. There, the raisins are dried in the shade until they are ripe for harvest. Lion also uses an early ripening variety that is slightly larger, plumper and meatier than the conventional sun-dried raisins.
Like wearing sunscreen, DOV raisins are protected under the canopy from harmful UV rays that also destroy our skin. As would be expected, DOV raisins are distinguished by a lighter color, softer wrinkles and more supple skin. Since the grape skins aren’t ruptured by scorching heat or mechanical harvesters, the moisture stays inside the raisins where the sugars slowly percolate. In a simple freezer test, you’ll taste and feel the difference. DOV raisins are sweet and remain soft and chewable. DOG raisins remain frozen hard because natural moisture and sugars were allowed to escape through their damaged skins.
At a blind University taste test, many participants preferred Lion’s variety of DOV because they’re sweeter and easier to chew than DOG raisins. Many industrial users also prefer DOV because it is “free-flowing” and has a greater shelf life than DOG raisins. DOV is also cleaner than DOG because it is not touched by human hands, does not lie on the ground and is shielded from most contaminants. Best yet, DOV is consistently graded higher by the USDA and is better for the environment since there is no need to burn the paper trays used for sun-dried raisins.
Lion Raisins’ DOV also eliminates damage caused by ever-increasing mechanical harvesting. During the process, green (ripe) grapes are often damaged by the harvester, causing them to “juice.” These sticky grapes are dropped onto trays to collect sand and other contaminants. Embedded stems are also problematic. These shortcomings are drastically improved with DOV raisins, which are not harvested first as green grapes. Like a food safe insurance policy, Lion Raisins’ DOV dries in the air, drastically reducing problems with stickiness, sand and embedded stems.
“Lion is the world’s premier producer and supplier of California DOV Raisins” says Bruce Lion.